The Ultimate About the Author Template: How to Write a Byline that Grows Your Business
- Qhubekani T. Nyathi
Finally, the monster guest post is done. You’ve crafted a magnetic headline, nailed the opening, slaved over each word, and polished the piece until it sparkles. Time to sit back and watch your business explode. But alas, the only bang you hear is the pop of your swelled balloon of expectations.
To make matters worse, you spent a couple of hundred bucks on a blogging course that promised to crown you king of the online world. Not only that. It took you several months to land the guest post, to begin with.
Found! The Missing Cog in Your Misfiring Blogging Machine
Answer: You botched your author bio.
Your byline, those few lines of copy you gloss over, is a marketing superpower. It’s the missing sprocket in your otherwise laudable blogging efforts.
“Your byline, those few lines of copy you gloss over, is a marketing superpower.”Tweet Me
It’s the unsung hero that helped Danny Iny explode his list and influence during his guest blogging frenzy. This guest blogging blitzkrieg earned him the undisputed title of Freddy Krueger of Blogging and opened amazing doors for him in his early days.
Things are about to change for you, too.
To free you from the agony of non-converting guest posts, I’ve crafted this in-depth step-by-step guide to help you write and optimize every line of your byline so you grow your business. Just like Danny.
Sounds good but, I can hear you doubting… do folks scroll so far down the page anyway?
While it’s true that people read the top part of a page most, that’s only half the story. They then scan through the page and head straight to the bottom… making the bottom the second-most viewed part of the page, as this heat map from Quick Sprout’s (then) membership site shows:
Quick Sprout stats revealed that the bottom page call to action got 39% more clicks than the middle one.
The point: a few engaged red-hot readers read all the way down a page. And they’re just the kind of prospects you want in your funnel.
Sidenote for blog editors: If you accept guest posts, give author attribution both on top and at the bottom of their piece. Your writers will get more value from their labor of love and adore you for it. They’ll produce more stellar content for you—a win for everyone involved.
Friend, you can’t afford to treat your byline as an afterthought anymore.
Why Your Author Bio Is a Marketing Treasure Chest
Your byline, if well-crafted and optimized, is a virtual ad that grows and markets your business day and night.
- Boosts your list. By linking to a lead magnet landing page, you can get tons of precious signups.
- Builds your authority. It points to your expertise, experience, awards, and achievements thus establishing your authority in your niche.
- Brands you memorably. It states your unique mission with precision and distinguishes you from thousands of other bloggers out there.
- Bonds you with prospects. With myriad businesses to choose from, clients want to work with people who are not just skilled but personable as well. Done well, your bio provides that personal spark.
- Brings you sales. It generates sales by linking to a landing page marketing your services or products.
That’s a pretty handy list of benefits, don’t you think? But before you dash off to cobble up a byline, realize there are pitfalls along the way.
Avoid These 2 Common Bio Bloopers Like The Plague
As you work on your post tailpiece, sidestep these two conversion-crushing banana skins:
#1. Generic Bio
Most online marketers have a one-size-fits-all bio they use for all their digital pieces.
That’s a huge mistake.
Being generic reduces your chances of connecting with your audience. To become more relatable and connect better with your tribe, fine-tune the bio for each piece you write. For instance, when writing for a parenting site, talk about your kids; you’ll connect better with your readers.
While having a boilerplate byline helps, always tweak it to align more with the piece you’re writing and the people you’re writing for. You’ll get better results.
#2. Faceless Bio
“A bio without a profile picture is like a cocktail party with no drinks.”Tweet Me
A bio without a profile picture is like a cocktail party with no drinks.
By not including your picture, you’re missing a fantastic opportunity to make a positive first impression on your audience. A study on the relationship between words and pictures in profiles by OkCupid, a data-loving dating site, concluded that your picture matters more than your words.
Their findings are summarized on this graphic:
Their key takeaway: Text accounts for less than 10% of what people think of you.
Sure, this data is from a dating site where looks play a bigger role in the scheme of things. Still, that doesn’t detract from the main point of the survey: Looks matter—a lot.
Whatever you do today, go and remove those trust-killing avatars and sketches from your profiles, they’re hurting your business. Upload a photo instead. You’ll thank me later.
More about your headshot later.
Now that you know how profitable an optimized byline can be and what common mistakes to avoid, let’s move on to how to write one.
The 4Ws Framework for an “About the Author” Template
“A winning bio has an inherent structure which answers 4 key questions in your reader’s mind:”Tweet Me
A winning bio has an inherent structure which answers four key questions in your reader’s mind:
#1. Who are you?
Say who you are in a snappy engaging way.
#2. What do you do?
Say what you do in a clear and catchy way.
#3. Who do you do it for?
State who exactly you serve.
#4. Why should I trust you?
Say why you’re qualified to serve your audience.
Remember, as you answer these questions, it’s not just about you. It’s about your audience, or more specifically, the value you provide for them.
It’s. Not. A. Biography. Okay?
It’s a bits-graphy … tidbits about you which relate to how you serve your audience. I asked Marsha Stopa, keeper of the legendary Jon Morrow’s kingdom and seasoned copywriter and editor in her own right, this question:
What’s the biggest mistake people make with their bylines? Here’s her insightful response:
Assuming that your bio is a compressed resume all about you. A bio is a tiny, but powerful, key to your marketing. Think of it as an elevator pitch in a couple sentences—it’s all about why your reader should care about you. So show them the problem you solve for them. Drop the titles, degrees and laundry list of things you have done. Stay focused on what you do for them.
Takeaway: think reader-first in everything.
Ed Gandia’s superb byline bears the four invisible strands of a strong byline:
All four audience questions are answered straight off:
Who are you? > freelance copywriter, author, speaker, and coach.
What do you do? > teach freelance writers how to earn more in less time.
Who do you do it for? > freelance writers and copywriters.
Why should I trust you? > author of bestselling book The Wealthy Freelancer, host of the popular podcast, High Income Business Writing, and has been featured on CNN, CBS, Inc Magazine, etc.
Before you write a word, choose your point of view: third person or first person? The first person approach is more conversational while the third person makes it easier for you to write about yourself and your achievements.
Once you’ve settled that matter, you’re ready to get into the major elements of a great byline.
The Anatomy of a Sizzling Author Bio (with Examples)
A cracker byline packs a P.U.N.C.H:
Pic and Personality
CTA and Catcher page
Humanness and Humor
Let’s dig deeper into each aspect.
#1. Pic and Personality
You remember the famous marketing mantra, don’t you?
People do business with people they know, like, and trust.
Online, people are distrustful because of unending scams and predatory cyber terrorists. Once people see your face they feel like they know you in person. They’re more likely to connect with you as your picture makes them feel safe.
Experts agree: pictures of people are good. Looking at someone else, even in a photo, evokes a positive physiological reaction of attraction, understanding, or identification.
It’s natural. People look at other people and, as a result, engage or identify with them. People will then trust you and do business with you once they see what you look like.
Use a professionally-shot photo which makes you look warm, likable, and competent, as Danny Iny does here:
This byline is all about the smashing smile… warm, radiant, inviting. Tell me, who wouldn’t want to work with this guy? Well, that’s the whole point ?. A confident smile is part of the architecture of a powerful profile picture.
Neuroscience marketing studies confirm previous scientific findings that smiling is a key component to approachability and authority as shown below:
(*Dominance and affiliation here mean influence, authority, friendliness, and openness)
For help coming up with the perfect profile picture, check out Buffer’s “7 Elements of the Best Profile Pictures.”
Alongside your picture is your personality since no one has a face like yours.
Dullness is the bane of most bylines. The majority read like they’ve been spit off the same gobbledygook writing machine. They lack personality and verve—key attributes of making a true human connection.
To write a star bio, let loose. Let go of your stilted dry thesis approach or be swallowed by the sea of sameness. Let your personality shine, like Joanna Wiebe does on her guest post about the author space:
Her bio lede, “the original conversion copywriter,” is:
Just like an authentic brand should be.
I caught up with Hannah Mang, who specializes in making boring business copy ooze personality, and asked her how personality (or lack thereof) impacts a brand’s bottom line. Here’s her loaded response:
While it may seem like there is no direct link between copy with personality and dollars on the table for your business, make no mistake:
Copy is what sells at the end of the day. It is the voice of you or your brand entering a direct conversation with your prospect or customer.
It is what builds and sustains the relationship…
See, here’s what’s true for all of us: People want to buy from people. Not websites.
So the way you speak and interact with your clients DOES matter.
No personality equals no emotion.
No emotion equals no reaction.
No reaction equals no action.
And no action taken equals zero sales for you.
Takeaway: Personality is a brand value that translates to dollars.
Ever heard of the first rule of copy? Even if you have, time for a reminder. The foremost golden rule of copy which attracts and converts is: Be clear.
Clarity springs from specificity which leads to better conversions. Also, specificity fosters engagement and captures the unique value you provide.
Peter Sandeen provides us a great example of specific writing that shows how people benefit from doing business with him.
Peter is all about value proposition and sales. That comes out in his copy. Don’t use blanket terms to describe who you are and what you do.
Don’t say: I coach business owners.
Say this instead: I coach solopreneurs who are overwhelmed by the many hats they’re forced to wear to keep their businesses afloat.
Then your ideal prospects will be inclined to check you out.
#3. Name recognition
Name recognition means how aware people are about your unique brand.
How can you boost your name recognition, authority, credibility?
Name your successes.
Your author bio is a big chance to establish your authority by pointing out your achievements so people do business with you. Please note: I’m referring to professional feats so your record League of Legends score doesn’t count (*coughs).
Have you written a book? That’s gold… put it in there.
Have you won an award in your industry? Thump your chest.
Have you been featured in popular blogs? Honk your horn.
Have you spoken at an industry conference? Let the whole world know.
Do you have decades of experience in your niche? Toss it in.
Maybe as a decent human you’re concerned that talking about your successes may be misread as shameless pride. I get your point—it’s a valid concern in an age of hype and over-the-top marketing.
But hear this: it ain’t bragging if you’ve done it.
As long as you say it from the depths of your genuine heart as a way of serving your audience and showing the solution you provide, you’re okay. You’re still on the straight and narrow path of ethical marketing.
Aaron Orendorff does an awesome job of building his authority in his bio:
Note how he leads with an impressive list of the huge publications he’s written for. He positions himself as a big-gun freelancer and blogger worth paying big bucks for. His strategy works because, in only a year, his business shot to six figures. And it was a side gig.
Not too shabby, hey?
I bribed approached Aaron and he agreed to spill his byline secrets. Here are his nuggets of wisdom:
Too many guest posters treat their bylines as an afterthought (or just use them as a chance to shamelessly brag). A small tweak with the reader in mind can go a long way. Last year I added this line—“Grab his Ultimate Content Creation Checklist”—immediately before the link to my website and saw my opt-in rates from referral traffic on guest posts double. It’s a small addition, but it lets anyone who clicks through know what to anticipate. In fact, I don’t even send them to a landing page; it’s just what my welcome overlay offers. The other thing is to keep up on your byline. If you’ve written for numerous publications, it’s probably time for byline audit. The difference in performance will amaze you.
Takeaway: Always be tweaking.
#4. CTA and Catcher page
You should have an overarching conversion goal for every piece of content you write which shapes everything you do, including your call to action.
Don’t be greedy when it comes to your CTA. You’d think it’s the place for you to frontload all your social media links, latest offer, and freebie.
You’re better off focusing on one CTA (which you can repeat).
Yep. Just one.
“Too many options cause your reader to freeze in inaction because of too many choices”Tweet Me
Too many options cause your reader to freeze in inaction because of too many choices as this classic jam study shows.
Conversions increased a whopping 10x when options were reduced. So, when it comes to your call to action, less is more. One or two links is enough. Anything more and you decimate your conversions.
Your CTA doesn’t exist for its own sake. It’s meant to take warm targeted traffic to your offer. You make the offer on a dedicated landing page, a special page that catches or receives targeted traffic. Don’t blow all your hard work by taking traffic to your homepage.
See the neat job Henneke does below.
This bio on a guest post….
Leads to this landing page:
Notice the one call to action on her byline? No shiny objects like social media buttons to distract her readers’ attention. Her one goal is landing course signups and the link takes readers straight to the signup page.
This landing page converts at an amazing average of 49.6% and goes up to 59.6% depending on traffic source.
Want these kinds of results?
Just work on the harmony between your byline and your landing page.
Henneke graciously agreed to deconstruct her bio and offer priceless advice:
A strong author bio fulfills three objectives. The text:
* Tells readers who you are and what you do
* Reveals a glimpse of your personality
* Encourages readers to find out more
In my author bio, I tell you who I am and what I do:
“Henneke Duistermaat is an irreverent copywriter and business writing coach.”
Next, I share my mission—a mission shows rather than tells readers about your passion; it adds a dash of personality:
“She’s on a mission to stamp out gobbledygook and to make boring business blogs sparkle.”
Lastly, my bio encourages you to click through to my site. I tell you what you get (a free course), but I also explain how you’ll benefit (learn how to write seductive content so you can win more business):
“Get her free 16-Part Snackable Writing Course for Busy People and learn how to enchant your readers and win more business.”
Ideally, you have only one call to action that’s related to the post you’ve written—you invite readers to take your relationship one step further, and you promise them you can help make their life a little better.
Takeaway: Be fascinating, reader-focused, and have one CTA.
#5. Humanness and Humor
While people adore heroes they connect with ordinary people who are like them.
“To become relatable, share common everyday things people identify with.”Tweet Me
To become relatable, share common everyday things people identify with. Talk about your pets. Mention your passion for baking. Speak about your naughty kids or favorite sports team. All these are connection hooks you can use to draw your audience towards you.
Daniel Threlfall humanizes himself well:
Daniel projects himself as a family man who loves his wife and kids with whom he vacations. Straightaway, you sense the warmth of a regular nice guy you can have coffee with.
On the flip side, people warm up to people who are unlike them, because they themselves are unique. Talk about a quirky habit of yours or a strange talent you have. Share something interesting about you even if it seems trivial.
For some sizzle and final flourish massage humor into your copy.
Not just to get people laughing but because humor is a business asset. Humor is the shortest distance between people, an instant relations builder. That’s an invaluable selling tool you can use to endear yourself to your prospects and clients.
Jacob Mcmillen uses a dash of humor, just enough to magnetize his audience:
To maintain your dignity, keep your friendship with Jacob off the basketball court ?.
In this lecture, Piotr Pluta, an organizational psychologist who runs Psychology Of Humor, a blog about the science of laughter, shared the benefits of using humor as a strategic business tool. He says humor:
- Boosts perceived similarity
- Increases liking
- Grows feeling of closeness
- Puts people at ease
- Sparks enthusiasm
Infuse humor into your copy, even if you’re a serious no-nonsense kind of person. Your byline—and business—will be better for it.
A Simple About the Author Template to Make the Whole Process a Breeze
Now, let’s distill everything into an easy 9-step process. To do so, we’ll help Nancy Gogetter, a fictitious writer coach, write a killer byline.
Step 1: For which piece of content do you want to write the bio?
Nancy replies: My guest post 3 Costly Mistakes Newbie Freelancers Make (And How to Fix Them).
Step 2: What point of view do you want to write in?
Nancy replies: Third person.
Step 3: Who are you professionally?
Nancy replies: I’m a newbie freelancer coach
Nancy writes: Nancy Gogetter is a newbie freelance writer coach.
Step 4: Any professional accomplishments?
Nancy replies: I’m the author of Freelancing Made Easy.
Nancy writes: She’s the author of Freelancing Made Easy
Step 5: Who do you serve and how?
Nancy replies: Newbie and aspiring freelancers.
Nancy writes: Her mission is to help new and aspiring freelancers overcome their doubts, gain confidence and take the first steps towards their writing dream.
Step 6: What’s your goal for this piece?
Nancy replies: To grow my list by getting readers to download my lead magnet.
Nancy writes: To learn how to make your first online dollar grab her guide 7 Fatal Mistakes Newbie Freelancers Make absolutely free.
Step 7: Any spicy tidbits you want to add?
Nancy replies: I revel in fine food and drink. My mom thinks I’m cute, you know.
Nancy writes: A self-confessed foodie (and adds the phrase as a suffix to her mission statement in step 5). She inserts the phrase ‘…a gorgeous (at least her mum thinks so!)…’ in the middle of her first line.
Step 8: Knit it all together and add your photo
Nancy weaves it all and produces her byline:
Nancy Gogetter is a gorgeous (at least her mum thinks so!) newbie freelance writer coach and author of Freelancing Made Easy. A self-confessed foodie, her mission is to help new and aspiring freelancers overcome their doubts, gain confidence and take the first steps towards their writing dream. To learn how to make your first online dollar grab her guide 7 Fatal Mistakes Newbie Freelancers Make absolutely free.
[Blue indicates a link]
Now Nancy can go play. She deserves a rest, doesn’t she?
She has to work on one final piece otherwise all her sweat goes down the drain.
Step 9: Where are you taking the traffic?
Nancy replies: My landing page where they’ll download my freebie.
Nancy crafts her landing page copy:
How to Overcome Your Writing Fears, Gain Confidence, and Earn Your First Writing Dollar (Without Making Fatal Mistakes)
Kick Starting Your Freelance Writing Career Couldn’t Be Any Simpler
Starting a freelance career is hard.
Not only do you have lots of things to learn, they’re many pitfalls to avoid.
Thankfully, you don’t have to sift through the heaps of conflicting advice out there in search of guidance. I’ve prepared a free step-by-step guide especially for you to help you along the way. In this free guide you’ll learn:
* The one thing nearly every new freelancer gets wrong and how to correct it
* A simple trick to cut your learning curve in half (saving you a lot of heartache)
* A freelance writing myth that keeps you locked in needless fear and inaction
* A little known secret that’ll help your earn your first dollar in 30 days or less
[Yes, send my guide now]
Because her message is consistent across her article, bio, and landing page, Nancy should get tons of warm targeted leads. And convert a couple into coaching clients.
Takeaway: Crafting your bio with care boosts your bottom line.
Don’t leave money and influence on the table by treating your byline as a do once set-and-forget business card.
“Don’t treat your byline as a do once set-and-forget business card.”Tweet Me
Over to You
Enough theorizing. Time to get your hands dirty.
You’ve got everything you need to spruce up or redo your byline so you reap its awesome marketing benefits. There’s no excuse now not to have a bio that builds your business.
Pick one of these five ingredients and bolster your bio.
What are you waiting for?
Go pack a punch through your potent content tailpiece.
What does your bio look like? Paste it in the comments and I’ll help you improve it.